With spring baseball now in full swing, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Suzuki injury update today
Following multiple reports (including from MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian) that Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki underwent an MRI yesterday to examine an oblique issue that has kept him out of the lineup in Cactus League play so far this spring, more details on the injury and Suzuki’s situation going forward are expected sometime today. Aside from being the everyday right fielder and one of the most important bats on the north side of Chicago, Suzuki is also currently slated to partake in the World Baseball Classic, suiting up for Japan. Any injury of significance the MRI reveals would likely endanger Suzuki’s participation in the WBC, even if he could still ultimately be expected to be ready for Opening Day. Should Suzuki miss time in the regular season, Trey Mancini and Christopher Morel seem likely to see time in the outfield, or perhaps Nelson Velazquez could get an extended run in the outfield after debuting in 2022.
2. What’s going on with Yordan?
Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez is still not swinging a bat, manager Dusty Baker told reporters Sunday (including Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle). This comes nearly a week after it was reported that Alvarez was suffering from soreness in his left hand, and on the heels of a 2022 season where the slugger dealt with soreness in both hands multiple times throughout the year. Initial reports suggested that Alvarez would begin swinging the bat in the following days, but clearly that did not come to fruition.
Little information has been provided about the situation, with both Baker and Alvarez himself downplaying the issue but also repeatedly declining to get into specifics. Given the Astros have not provided a timeline for Alvarez’s return to action, it’s hard to say to what level this issue will impact the slugger’s ramp up for Opening Day. Still just 25 years old, Alvarez was among the best hitters in baseball last season. He slashed .306/.406/.613 in 2022, good for a 185 wRC+ that was second only to Aaron Judge among qualified MLB players.
3. Jazz’s debut in center
Marlins star Jazz Chisholm Jr. made his debut in center field yesterday against the Cardinals. Chisholm had spent the entirety of his career to this point as a middle infielder, but following offseason deals to bring former Twins hitter Luis Arraez and free agent infielder Jean Segura to Miami, the Marlins decided to try Chisholm in center. While unorthodox, the move is not unprecedented, as Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. is expected to move from his native shortstop to the outfield this season in deference to newly acquired Xander Bogaerts. The Mariners tried a similar switch with Dee Strange-Gordon back in 2018, which didn’t pan out well.
Chisholm will be learning to play center field on the fly throughout the spring. Should the experiment work, it’d give the Marlins a multi-year option in center — Chisholm is controllable through 2026 — after spending years trying to piece things together at the position. In 2022, they cobbled together production from Jesus Sanchez, JJ Bleday, and Bryan De La Cruz, each of whom is better suited for an outfield corner. Bleday has since been traded to the A’s.